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Listening Post
A royal engagement
What is it about the British royal family that makes an engagement headline news from New York to Bangkok?
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2010 18:14 GMT



We start the show this week by looking at how a royal engagement in Britain made headlines from New York to Bangkok. We also have a report on L'Affaire Bettencourt, a political scandal in France that pits the president against the country's biggest newspaper.  

When Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the news travelled quickly. Newspapers around the world featured pictures of the happy couple on their front pages. News bulletins in countless countries ran the story and it proceeded to spread like wildfire online.

But why did this story captivate such a global audience? What is it about the British royal family that makes one of their engagements international news? That is what we try to find out in our News Divide this week. Between the "fairytale wedding" narrative, an aged allegiance to the crown and the proximity of this story to a major global media hub, there is a lot to talk about. 

Quick hits from the media world: The credibility of some high profile journalists in India takes a knock with the release of some compromising phone recordings; an arrest warrant has been issued for Julian Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, over the rape allegations which were initially dropped earlier this year; the BBC World Service pulls a documentary on the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005 over compliance issues and nine publications in Myanmar have been suspended for their coverage of the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from 15 years of house arrest.

We have been back and forth on this story a few times on the show - what has come to be known as 'L'Affaire Bettencourt' in France. It centres on Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign where he allegedly received illegal donations from France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

An internet news website, Mediapart, broke the story with transcripts from an alleged phone conversation between Bettencourt and her financial advisors that suggested that President Sarkozy had accepted "envelopes of cash" during his campaign. That is when France's biggest newspaper, Le Monde, stepped into the ring and began reporting new details about the story. Then it really gained traction in the French media, so much so that now there are accusations of spying, personal vendettas and self-censorship, there is even a pending lawsuit. It is all a bit complicated which is why our reporter, Jason Mojica went to Paris, to find out what all the fuss is about.

Finally, you will see a few high risk stunt videos in the Internet Video of the Week segment of the show. Some will keep you on the edge of your seat, some can make you squirm, some may even bore you - but not this one! Danny MacAskill is a pro bicycle rider from Scotland who we have featured in this part of the show before. His latest video called Way Back Home charts the daredevil rider's trip from Edinburgh to Dunvegan, his hometown, with some incredible stunts in-between. They have upped the production value this time and added a pretty cool track to go with it but none of it compares to the sheer brilliance of this Scotsman's bike riding skills. We hope you enjoy the show!

This episode of the Listening Post can be seen from Friday, November 26, at the following times GMT: Friday: 1230; Saturday: 0630; Sunday: 2030; Monday: 0300; Tuesday: 1400, 2330; Wednesday: 1900; Thursday: 0030, 0730.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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